The United States Drug Enforcement Administration is cracking down on distributors and manufacturers of prescription pills in a no nonsense manner. Substance licenses are revoked if suppliers are caught selling pills to pharmacies intending to sell them to those holding illegitimate prescriptions. The USDEA is closely monitoring production and distribution patterns to focus in on suspect behavior.
Last October, the Florida legislature passed a new law that restricted pain clinics from dispensing over a three-day supply of narcotics to patients who paid in cash. There are over 850 pain clinics registered in Florida. Despite the fact that many are advertising for new patients on flashy print ads and billboards, promising all kinds of pain relief, a large number of pain clinics have ended sales completely due to the new laws and have opted to direct patients to pharmacies.
Oxycodone, used to treat pain, is one of the most popular and widely used prescription drugs. The street favorite, known as “Oxy,” is at the very center of the government’s battle against pain pill abuse. As a result, legitimate patients who are in real pain are suffering the consequences of the government crackdown. Oxycodone has become harder to locate and more expensive to purchase. Patients in pain have had to switch to different, less effective, medications that are easier to get.
A side effect of the government crackdown on prescription pill abuse is the closing down of many pill mills. Also, drug wholesalers have been affected in that they can now only receive a limited supply of certain pills like oxycodone. They are not permitted to receive more the remainder of the month once their supplies are gone. As a result, pharmacists are forced to reject business and make the judgment call as to who is a legitimate pain patient as opposed to a drug addict, in order to decide who they should make a sale to.
Maj. Donna Lusczynski of the sheriff’s special investigations division in Hillsborough County, Florida, reports that there are smaller groups of people that gather in pain clinic parking lots. “It’s not like the barbecue out back,” like it used to be. According to Luscynski, oxycodone pills that were once $8 to $10 when bought on the street have since increased to $10 to $15 because of its decreased availability. In sum, the new laws have changed the face of the prescription pill industry.
Increased violent crime is another unfortunate side effect of the higher price of oxycodone. In Florida, there were over 1,800 pharmacy robberies over the last three years, mostly related to individuals attempting to secure narcotic painkillers.
Seven people in Florida die each day from overdosing on prescription pills. Officials state that the true test of whether the government crackdown on prescription pill abuse has been effective will be lower deaths from overdose. We do not yet have statistics on this point.
Prescription pill abuse in Florida has resulted in numerous problems. The people who legitimately need pain killers are arguably the ones suffering the most as an unfortunate side effect of the war against prescription pill abuse.